Scavenging: Second Hand Sunday

There is virtually no furniture in our shared space at Chez Ridley that was bought new - with the exception of the bookshelves, tv (is a tv furniture?) and a beanbag, everything is second hand and has either come from family, friends, previous housemates or Aussie Junk. (Aussie Junk is a great tip based recycling shop - they even extend this philosophy to their website, reusing one from 1997 - right down to marquee text)

While some may think that this just cements the mild squalor of share-house life, I like the sense that it lessens our eco-footprint a little and it brings a certain eclecticism to the mix.

(I also suspect that my parents - uh, thrifty is a nice word I guess - ways have rubbed off on me to some extent)

There's a certain thrill to the hunt when you score something second-hand, particularly when you are out looking for it (not looking is even better) and stumble across something that you need. I've known some people who couldn't imagine having everything but the newest and shiniest and I wish them well in their identical, treeless suburban estate lives.

Back in Melbourne, hard rubbish day (usually 3 or 4 times a year) was always a great time to just wander the streets and pick through parts of people's lives that they've decided to leave behind. It's a bit like walking through a contemporary antiques shop in some ways. (I haven't been to many but the thing I like about antiques shops is the sense of being in a musuem, but one where you can pick everything up and where you have more of a sense that everything has some story to it)

There are whole subcultures dedicated to making use of the things that other people have discarded - the French film The Gleaners & I is a beautiful celebration of this. (It also makes the interesting point that this is the foundation of a lot of post-modern sampling culture).

All of this is my (probably longwinded) way of saying that I'm quite the fan of Canberra's hard rubbish day equivalent - Second Hand Sunday. (SHS)

Second Hand Sunday works on the principle that you register your address on a website a few days beforehand and then a complete list of participating homes (ie people hoping to throw out their old, still usable crap) gets published in the Sunday paper. (The government doesn't follow through with picking up the leftovers as you get with hard-rubbish day but nevermind, points for effort anyway).

PC (I'll spare you the explanation of the no doubt nauseatingly cute pet names for now) and I stumbled across a few things on the way to brekky yesterday morning - notably a low-set lounge chair and stereo setup - and I remembered that it was indeed SHS. Fortunately PC shares my love of a spot of gleaning and plans were made to go a-foraging.

Now there's a little strategising to be done with a hard-rubbish day / second hand sunday - you might think initially that the primo locations would be the well heeled areas - in Canberra that would be places like Yarralumla, Red Hill, Griffith, Manuka and Campbell perhaps but the thing is that rich people tend to get that way by being a little on the stingy side.

Aspirational is where it's at - particularly people moving into shiny new homes in big estates who are gradually upgrading all of their old stuff to keep up with the neighbours. Areas around Belconnen and Tuggeranong were very well represented in the listings in the paper - kudos to Kambah in particular for their community spirit in being by far the most enthusiastic participants.

Hippy-esque left leaning university type suburbs were also a nice source of goodies - at least on first impressions anyway. (O'Connor, Turner, Ainslie etc)

Long story short, here is a sampling of the haul. (SP did some nice work with some tupperware, tins and a bananas-in-pyjamas knitted coathanger as well)(There is also a pretty nifty ergonomic chair in the haul but I've always found them a little odd so that quickly disappeared into Eric's room)

Highlight for me (our loungeroom is crying out for comfortable chairs - aside from my pride of place Aussie Junk recliner rocker, it's a challenging place to sit) was this baby - a little ratty at the front end but nothing that a bit of fabric won't fix up.

We've been on the lookout for an amplifier for quite a while, so finding this combo of a record player, speakers and amp was quite the treat.

Of course, sometimes things are left out for a reason and while the speakers seem pretty useful, the record player quickly showed itself to be a little iffy - unless of course you like the (random) variable speed thing.

My attempts to pull it apart and see if there was anything obviously the matter was I think the main part of the problem in terms of things getting worse.

Well it was either that or my choice of test album (thanks Electric Pandas)

The amp is offering it's own particular challenges - the times it worked (so far just in one speaker or the other) it has sounded great but the more I've tinkered, the worse it has gotten. (So obviously, more tinkering is in order there)

All in all though, a good days hunting.